After writing the blog here about Harry Potter World in Orlando, I got a few questions about Harry Potter related sights in Scotland as it is where I live after all. So I thought I would dig into the ol’ tinternet and see what I could find. First up I really wanted to see what there was in Edinburgh. After hunting around for a while I came across this website offering free Harry walking tours, and thought this was be perfect, save me trying to find them on my own.
The tour started at 5 o’clock outside Greyfriers Bobby and led us first into Greyfriers Graveyard where she stopped and explained a bit about the tour and JK Rowling and things, we then walked around and she pointed out some gravestones which the author had used as inspiration for characters. The guide was fantastic, very knowledgable and explained not only the relevance to the novels but also the history of the real person too. We even got to see the real Tom Riddle gravestone!
Next to the graveyard is the famous George Herriot School which Jk
Rowling used as inspiration for Hogwarts but it turns out it’s not only the look of the school that is similar. This school also has 4 house teams, named after areas in Edinburgh, and also uses the same colours for each team. Unfortunately on the day we went the gates were closed as school was in, but the guide ensured us if we go at the weekend we can go into the ground, look around and get photos.
Next up we walked along to Edinburgh University in Potterow where The author studied for her teacher training award and where the students now have a Harry Potter Society who meet weekly, with a annual sorting ceremony and their own quidditch team, the Holyrood Hippogriffs!
We then walked a bit to find the house of one of the men at the graveyard, who one of the characters is named after, and this man was quite the character himself judging by the guides stories!
We then seen the cafe where JK wrote the first Harry Potter book, Nicholson’s cafe, where she sat upstairs while her daughter slept. Unbeknown to me, it’s actually this cafe and not the next one where she started the novels, much to my surprise as the next cafe definitely uses the fact to their advantage.
Yes, so next up, The Elephant Cafe. JK Rowling did indeed spend time in here as well writing, and if you go through the back you can sit at the table where she sat and see the an unusual view of Edinburgh Castle which may have been further inspiration for Hogwarts. It gets very crowded in here and is quite expensive but it’s a nice little place and a must for Harry fans.
It was JK Rowling herself that cleared up the confusion between the two cafés by stating it was I fact Nicholson’s where she wrote the first book, so they have installed a small plaque on the wall.
Next we walked up the Royal Mile to the City Chambers where we seen JK Rowling’s handprints and heard a few stories about one of the characters who worked there, again used as inspiration.
We also passed Victoria Street and the dark winding alleys off the Royal mile which the author used when dreaming up Diagon Alley.
The tour finishes up at the famous Balmoral Hotel where JK hired a suite to finish the last novel in relative peace and quiet. When she finished she is said to have signed the bottom of the bronze bust in the room and it’s still there, only it’s now in a glass cabinet!
All in all, this was a fantastic tour. Edinburgh was crying out for something like this, and this was perfect. It was busy when we went and I bet it does brilliant. It’s free but you can leave a donation, which most people do. The tour guides are witty and informative and they even hand out little wands for the kids and have a sorting hat for anyone wishing to have a go. It takes 90 minutes or so with plenty of stops for photos, and all the places are easy to find if you want to go back and have a more leisurely look, I would love to go back to Greyfriers Graveyard, it’s fascinating.
What is your favourite Harry Potter sights in and around Edinburgh that I can go and see?